The 2021 Aylmer aquatics program is a go this summer, and starting Tuesday, June 15 will operate at a reduced capacity to abide by provincial rules related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The main pool will open at 25% capacity (40 people) and the wading pool is allowed four people, with both numbers excluding staff. The aquatic program season generally runs from June 15 to Sept. 30.
The matter was discussed at a virtual council meeting Monday, June 7.
Town staff have been in correspondence with YWCA St. Thomas-Elgin, who oversee aquatic programs and pool staffing, since early February to discuss pool programming, said Parks and Recreation Director Thom Polland.
“Last year, council made a really tough decision to keep the pools closed,” he said. The town and YWCA had “the target of opening for 2021.
“Staff from the YWCA have been working with the most recent guidelines provided by Southwestern Public Health relating to reopening pools, splash pads, and waterfronts.”
Town staff and YWCA representatives made several adjustments to the site to abide by safety protocols, said Mr. Polland, including the installation an exterior shower. This was to prevent visitors from using the indoor facilities.
According to the town’s agreement with YWCA, there is to be a minimum of 20.5 hours of public swimming weekly, which will be supervised by qualified staff. The hours will be provided daily and include evenings. The pool was also required to operate for a minimum of eight weeks. Should the province institute another stay-at-home order, neither of these conditions would be possible for the YWCA to fulfill. Therefore, they would be granted relief from council for both clauses in the agreement.
Councillor Pete Barbour asked, “If the province relaxes the guidelines in any particular manner, is there flexibility within the plan to expand the 25%?”
Mr. Polland said absolutely, there is flexibility to adjust capacity requirements should provincial or public health rules change.
Cr. Tom Charlton asked whether the town normally takes a loss to operate the program, and if so, how much more that would be than normal this year.
Town treasurer Heather Sachs said the tax levy amount for the pool and the splashpad was approximately $56,000.
“We’re anticipating this year at 25% capacity, that will be around $65,000,” said Ms. Sachs. “Malahide shares some of the cost, so depending on how many of the expenses are going to be covered by Malahide, that could fluctuate.
“It looks like it’s going to be about $65,000, worst case, but probably closer to $60,000.”
Aylmer’s cost to subsidize the program in recent years, included in the staff report, has been $30,934.85 (2017), $34,106.92 (2018), $37,184.84 (2019), and $0 (2020, cancelled due to COVID-19).
Veronica Reiner, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Aylmer Express